Tandem as an alternative method of English language teaching
Analysis of using of tandem as an alternative method of English language teaching. The objectives and principles for the use of method. The organization of teaching with the tandem-method. The forming of cross-cultural, linguistic competence of students.
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Tambov State University named after G.R. Derzhavin
Tandem as an alternative method of English language teaching
Voloshko Mariya Olegovna
The article considers the use of tandem as an alternative method of English language teaching. The author describes the main objectives and principles for the use of this method. Basing on personal experience of teaching the author identifies the main approaches to the use of the tandem-method in teaching a foreign language. Special attention is paid to studying the key features of the use of teaching in tandem. The organization of teaching with the use of the tandem-method, according to the author, contributes to the formation of cross-cultural and linguistic competence of students.
Key words and phrases: tandem-method; cross-cultural competence; linguistic competence; bilingual environment; principle of reciprocity; principle of individual autonomy; alternative method.
Статья рассматривает использование тандема в качестве альтернативного метода обучения английскому языку. Автор описывает основные цели и принципы использования данного метода. На основе личного опыта преподавания автором были определены основные подходы к использованию тандем-метода в обучении иностранному языку. Основное внимание автор уделяет изучению ключевых особенностей использования обучения в тандеме. Организация обучения с применением тандем-метода, по мнению автора, способствует формированию межкультурной и лингвистической компетенции учащихся.
Ключевые слова и фразы: тандем-метод; межкультурная компетенция; лингвистическая компетенция; билингвальная среда; принцип взаимности; принцип личностной автономии; альтернативный метод.
tandem method english language teaching
Basic maintenance of research
Modern changes in educational system determine the necessity of educating a new type of a person who is ready for constant self-development and self-studying. We consider that tandem-method is one of the most productive and effective alternative methods of English language teaching and culture studying. Tandem-method is a way of learning foreign language while two partners with different native languages are working in pairs . The main aim of tandem is to study partner's language in a situation of real or virtual communication. Learning a foreign language in tandem, the representatives of two different cultures and languages work together in order to:
- improve their communicative abilities in their partner's mother tongue; - get to know each other better, learn about partner's cultural background; - get benefits from their partner's knowledge and experience.
Language exchange in tandem allows establishing a close and informal relationship with students of the same age, to discuss topics they both consider interesting. This communicative context tends to increase students' motivation as they can check that they are capable of using the target language to communicate with native speakers, and they have more freedom to deal with the topics so they become more self-confident and autonomous learners and strive to progress in their learning.
Tandem-method is characterized by two main principles:
- individual autonomy.
The principle of reciprocity means that each participant receives the same benefits from interaction and mutual learning. Language learning in tandem occurs in a learning partnership, to which each partner brings certain skills and abilities which the other partner seeks to acquire and in which both partners support each other in their learning. The mutual interdependence between the two partners demands equal commitment in such a way that both benefit as much as possible from their working together.
The principle of personal autonomy is based on the fact that each partner is responsible for his/her own learning. Each decides what they want to learn, how and when, and what sort of help is needed from their partner.
It is possible to say that studying in tandem is one of the most perspective directions based on self-learning and self-development. The main features of this method are the following:
Roles of partners in tandem-course. While in most learning contexts, learners and teachers' roles are distinct, in tandem both roles are carried out alternatively.
Relationship between partners. Classroom relationship is often described as asymmetrical (teacher - student) or symmetrical (student - student). During each lesson each partner can play both roles: the role of a language expert and the role of a learner. It helps to avoid negative consequences of asymmetry between the less and more proficient speakers that may induce feelings of inferiority, fear of error, shyness.
Intrinsic motivation device. In addition to their internal and external motivations, each student is wellmotivated by the tandem self-regulating mechanism.
Pleasure of intercultural interaction. Intercultural interaction may include sense of humour, emotions and getting pleasure from experience exchanging, as well as negative feelings of tension, frustration, irritation and even anger .
Thus, we believe that the organization of learning in the bilingual environment based on the tandem method will contribute to the formation of intercultural and linguistic competences. All in all, foreign language learning is an active process, in which learners should not only acquire the grammatical and phonological features of studying language, but they should also be aware of the way people live and behave inside the target language community. Once the learner is able to recognize differences and similarities between the native and the target languages and benefit from this knowledge, he/she becomes a more critical, reflective and autonomous learner.
To check this assumption, the algorithm of formation of intercultural competence in the bilingual environment was developed; it was based on the tandem method, which had 3 stages and 10 steps: The first stage. Preparatory stage. Step 1. Planning (general information, planning of learning).
Step 2. Diagnosis (identification of students' needs, level of motivation, identifying the most interesting topics and issues for further study).
Step 3. Finding a tandem partner, using polyfunctional tandem-server (http://www.tandemcity.com/), etc.). The second stage. Basic stage.
Step 4. Remote communication with a tandem partner (communication with the tandem partner using e-mail, social networks, Skype and other programs for video conferences; discussion of problems of current and mutual learning of native languages of their tandem partners, discussion of the cultural features, searching for similarities and differences between studying cultures and languages, creating blogs or diaries).
Step 5. Analysis (a study of the results obtained, their analysis and evaluation, identifying similarities and differences in the cultural realities).
Step 6. Reflection (identifying positive and negative aspects of learning in tandem).
Step 7. Connection with a teacher during the whole period of studying. The third stage. Final stage. Step 8. Discussion of results (assessment of the effectiveness of the project).
Step 9. Self-evaluation (self-evaluation, the participants appreciated how they were able to form intercultural competence, keeping reflective diaries and/or blogs).
Step 10. Pedagogical evaluation of results.
During the experimental study it is possible to use the following forms of control: - observation;
peer assessment; - self-control.
In order to check the efficiency of tandem-method there was organized the experimental training. Experimental training was provided in 2013/2014 and in 2014/2015 academic years in Independent Noncommercial Organization of Extended Education Training Linguistic Centre "Dialogue" (Michurinsk). Participants' levels of proficiency were from A2+ to B2+ according to the European scale. The tandem-partners of our pupils were English-speaking students who wanted to take part in the project and sent application forms. Both groups of pupils discussed and chose the subjects for discussions in advance. The main aim of this experimental training was the development of crosscultural and language competences of Russian and English speaking participants.
The project based on the studying using the tandem method has been revealed by the dynamics of all components of intercultural competence. This indicates that the formation of intercultural competence through learning in tandem is an achievable goal.
As for the results of the project, it is necessary to notice that the cognitive components of students' intercultural competence have increased significantly. Language competence of participants has also increased (from A2 to B1, B1+). Studying in tandem helps to broaden students' minds. Before taking part in the project most of the participants did not know anything about the another culture and its components as theoretical concepts. Some participants had only a partial view of existence of several types of cultures within one country and several types of subcultures within one culture. Most of the participants in the tandem course identified the concepts of "culture" and "country".
Thanks to the tandem-course students have learned a lot of new information about their own culture and about their partners' culture. It helped students to understand similarities and differences of cultures and gave an opportunity to learn how to interpret cultural aspects competently.
In addition, learning in tandem helps participants to develop the ability to identify potential intercultural conflicts and to find ways to resolve them and prevent them in the future. Thus, the formation of the cognitive component of intercultural competence turns to the formation of social and cultural components. Taking part in the project helps students to develop the ability to represent their native countries and cultures; the ability to evaluate, understand and accept cultural values of different countries. In order to simplify this process tutors and tandem partners explained some cultural aspects that were difficult to understand.
Although there were some difficulties in understanding the specific cultural characteristics of their tandem partners, during the period of training course participants were very friendly and tolerant. They easily engaged in the group work and they free expressed their thoughts and emotions.
To sum up, it is necessary to underline the effectiveness of using tandem-method. Despite emerging difficulties in understanding certain cultural characteristics, participants get an opportunity to learn how to become more tolerant and friendlier to each other, how to express their thoughts and emotions.
1. Волошко М.О. Алгоритм формирования межкультурной компетенции в билингвальной среде на основе тандемметода // Филологические науки. Вопросы теории и практики. Тамбов: Грамота, 2016. № 2 (56): в 2-х ч. Ч.1. C.184-186.
2. Тамбовкина Т.Ю. Тандем-метод - один из путей реализации личностно ориентированного подхода в языковом образовании // Иностранные языки в школе. 2003. № 5. С.13-17.
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